Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

PLA may help you earn up to 60 college credits as a result of learning you gained outside the traditional classroom setting. 

PLA saves your tuition dollars by awarding credits for courses in which you demonstrate college level learning; this includes but is not limited to: work history, military and volunteer service and other life experiences.

PLA makes it possible for you to earn your Bachelor Degree in half the time.

PLA participants fulfill a residency requirement of 34 credit hours with the University to earn the degree.

“PLA has transformed my life and helped me achieve my academic dreams.”   


Bonita M. Vaughn
Former Student & Alumna

Eligibility for Enrollment in PLA:

  • Completion of Prior Learning Pre-Assessment – “Am I a Good Candidate?”

  • Completion of ENG 101 and ENG 110 or equivalents

  • Completion of CTE 150 or equivalent

  • GPA of 2.0 or above

  • Pursuing an undergraduate degree

  • Matriculation to MU with all official transcripts on file

  • 5+ years of “college-comparable” prior learning in a volunteer or professional context

  • Application for PLA, authorized by Mentor/Advisor and PLA Director

Follow these Steps to Get Started: 

  • Obtain your degree plan and meet with your Mentor to compare your required courses with your prior learning to find courses in which you may have obtained college learning.

  • Take PLA Pre-Assessment, “Am I a Good Candidate?” for each course being attempted for credit and review with Mentor. 

  • Obtain application signed by your Mentor regarding courses being challenged for PLA credit and take to PLA Director for signature.  

  • Enroll in PLA 130.

Contact the Academic Affairs Office for additional information at 317 543-4890.

PLA & Portfolio FAQs

What is Prior Learning Assessment?

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), which includes Portfolio Assessment, is a way to earn college credit for college-level knowledge you have attained outside the traditional college classroom. Martin University acknowledges that adult learners bring with them lifelong knowledge that is equivalent to what would be learned in college courses and this knowledge can often be applied to a degree. Adult learners can use our course catalog and browse our course descriptions to find courses that match knowledge they already possess.

What’s a PLA portfolio?

The PLA portfolio process involves creating a written presentation that is assembled and submitted to earn credit for knowledge you have that is equivalent to what would be taught in a specific course. The portfolio addresses a course description and learning outcomes through a written narrative and a collection of evidence that supports your knowledge and background.

How many credits can I earn through portfolio assessment?

An adult learner can earn up to sixty (60) credit hours through Prior Learning Assessment.

How do I create my portfolio?

Martin University offers a course that provides structure and guidance for adult learners interested in earning credit for prior learning. PLA-130, the Prior Learning Assessment course, should be discussed with your Mentor/Advisor to clarify the process and complete the pre-assessment(s) which will provide a greater understanding of options for earning college credit for prior learning. PLA-130 provides a guide for understanding experiential learning and the portfolio development process. During the PLA 130 course you will develop and submit your portfolio for assessment for each course being challenged for credit. The assessment (portfolio) will be evaluated by both the PLA Director and content area specialists for consideration of credit.

Are there any prerequisites?

Successful completion of ENG 101, CTE 150 and ENG 110 (or equivalent) is required prior to enrolling in PLA 130. Portfolio development requires a great deal of writing, so college-level writing skills are a necessity. Other prerequisites include a GPA of 2.0 or above and the adult learner must be pursuing an undergraduate degree.

In what subject areas can I do portfolio assessment?

Adult learners may earn credit from a wide variety of academic courses offered at Martin University. Academic advisors and student Mentors are available to help adult learners assess their knowledge and skills to determine which courses they may earn credit for through knowledge they have already acquired. A pre-assessment is required for each course under consideration (to help with this determination) and the Mentor/Advisor will assist adult learners with this task prior to enrollment in PLA 130.

Are there subject areas where portfolio assessment cannot or should not be attempted?

Most course requirements can be satisfied via portfolio. However, there may be a few courses that do not offer students the opportunity to earn credit. Further, English composition courses are not eligible for the PLA portfolio process. The Prior Learning Assessment/Portfolio Department can provide additional information about this.

How long does the process take?

PLA-130 is offered in the fall and spring semester. It is a hybrid course in which adult learners will have to complete their portfolio within the course time frame.

What are my chances of earning credit?

If you make a reasonable and accurate selection as to the course description you want to challenge for credit, AND you have the appropriate background and knowledge as well as the skills to articulate that background and knowledge, you should be able to earn credit. The overwhelming majority of our Portfolio students are successful in their attempts to earn college credits. While no two PLA candidates are exactly alike, those who succeed usually have the following elements in common:

  • Possess a realistic view of their knowledge
  • Follow the instructions carefully
  • Challenge a course (or courses) that is appropriate to their knowledge and skills
  • Submit a well-organized portfolio that pays attention to details
  • Seek help from the PLA-130 course instructor and Mentor/Advisor, when needed.

How much does PLA cost? Is PLA covered by Financial Aid?

  • The per-credit tuition for PLA-130 is the same as for other University courses.
  • Federal Financial Aid can be used for all University courses which include PLA 130.


Martin University

2186 North Sherman Drive,
Indianapolis, IN 46218

Phone (317) 543-3235

Toll Free (866) 344-3114

Fax (317) 917-3393

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